Public health experts urge lawmakers to combat youth vaping

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AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) - A new poll shows many Mainers think more attention needs to be focused on protecting young people from tobacco products and e-cigarettes.

The Maine Public Health Association (MPHA) Monday shared results of their statewide research at the State House in Augusta.

They're calling on lawmakers to raise the price of tobacco, and tax e-cigarettes and loose tobacco the same as cigarettes.

A majority of the 450 Mainers polled in April believe tobacco settlement funds should be used to help educate our younger population about the hidden dangers of vaping.

Mary Lou Warn was among those speaking at Monday's press conference. The Winslow mother has become a public advocate for the American Cancer Society after she found her son 17-year son was addicted to e-cigarettes several years ago.

Jake Warn, now a freshman in college, says vaping was considered a social norm at his school. "I definitely saw cigarettes as this nasty product but these othe devices more as this modern, kind of new wave that didn't really have that same effect," he said. " And that was just uneducated knowledge on my part."

Jamie Comstock, program manager for Bangor Health and Community Services says her agency regularly takes calls from teachers, school administrators and parents concerned about the rapidly increasing use of e-cigarettes and flavored tobacco products.

We need to figure out where our priorities are and save a generation of kids honestly who are in danger of being sacrificed to the tobacco industry," she says.